GALVESTON

Vicki Giddens was especially excited about St. Patrick’s Day this year.

This was her first time involved in the fundraising festival for St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1010 35th St., but she hopes to be involved in many more, she said.

“We’re going to be baptized and confirmed,” she said.

She stood outside at the festival decked in sparkly green and balancing a bunt cake she planned to auction off.

The St. Patrick’s Day festival was a good way to support the church, but also a good excuse to dress up, she said.

The chilly Saturday brought a crowd of festival-goers to St. Patrick to listen to music, play games and celebrate Irish culture.

Holy Family Parish holds a festival at the church every year to raise money and celebrate the church’s Irish roots, parish Business Manager Heather Foster said.

“St. Patrick’s was built for the Irish community,” Foster said. “Now, we don’t segregate like that anymore. Everybody goes to every church but that’s why they were built originally.”

Named for Ireland’s most prominent patron saint, the church was built 1877 and designed by Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton, according to a historic plaque outside the church.

The festival is always Irish-themed and is a fun way to both celebrate and interact with the community, church member Margarita Rosales said.

“We always come out and help out,” Rosales said. “It’s a nice experience.”

Rebecca Gantert is also converting to Catholicism with Giddens, she said.

She enjoyed the Irish festival Saturday afternoon and dressing up in bright green, she said.

Galveston has a long history of Irish heritage, she said.

“In Galveston there’s everything,” Gantert said. “It used to be like that. It was a little Ellis Island.”

Irish immigrants have a deep history in Texas. The 1850 census listed 1,403 Irish people in Texas, according to the Texas Almanac. By 1860, that number had jumped to 3,480, according to the almanac.

Large numbers of Irish immigrants entered America through Galveston during the mid- and late 1800s and many stayed on the island, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Now, Saint Patrick’s Day is just a good excuse to get together, Judy Moriarty said Saturday.

“It’s just fun for the family to hang out together,” Moriarty said.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; keri.heath@galvnews.com or on Twitter @HeathKeri.

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